Sunday, November 10, 2013

Have You Been To My New Blog?

On November 1, 2013, I moved my blog to my new site. Have you gone over there Have you subscribed? If not, now's a good time.

Thanks! Hope to see you soon!

Friday, November 1, 2013

I've Moved!

Well guys, the journey isn't over, but The Journey is. After a few years on Blogger, I've decided to make the big switch over to WordPress.

Please check out my new page:  Michelle Longo

I'll be participating in NaBloPoMo, the month long blogging adventure. So if you want to keep up on what I'm doing, please click on that link above and subscribe. I'll be coming back here every now and again to remind you to make the switch, but probably not for too long. Because seriously, it's enough trouble keeping up one blog, there's no way I'm going to keep up two.

Thanks to all my loyal readers, you guys are the best. I hope you'll follow me to my new home.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Talking Is Overrated.

When what you have to say to someone is simultaneously everything and nothing at all, sometimes the best course of action is to avoid the person altogether.

At least half a dozen wedding responses were waiting for me when I checked the mail. I flipped through them, stopping on one with no return address. I opened that one first, anticipation coursing through my fingers, only to find an X was placed next to Will Not Attend and the bottom was signed "Dad and Dolores."

I turned the card over, looking for a note, an explanation, an apology, but there was none. The envelope held nothing further. I fumbled for my house key, desperate to get inside. I knew they didn't have another commitment. I knew they just didn't want to be at my wedding.

I tossed the other responses onto the kitchen table with the rest of the mail and headed into the bedroom to find my phone book. His number and address were listed formally by last name-comma-first, giving no indication to an outsider that he was anything more to me than the neighbor whose information was on another page.

The distance between us had been considerable, having only connected intermittently over many years of estrangement. This last time he sought me out because he had done the math and deduced that at twenty-four I must have been out of college thus ending his responsibility to pay child support. My mother had never notified the probation office and had continued cashing his monthly $25 checks firmly believing he owed her so much more than that. Much to my mother's dismay, I agreed to write a letter affirming my graduation and the cessation of his obligation.

After that call, we spoke a few more times. I told him about my life. I thought he was happy for me.

When I included him on the guest list, I imagined he'd walk into the wedding hall and I could tell my friends, "Look! That's my dad!" I pictured him hugging me and telling me I looked beautiful. I thought maybe he might dance with me.

I pictured him showing a friend the photo from the thank you card I would send him and saying with pride, "My baby got married and the wedding was wonderful!"

My stepmother answered the phone and curtly told me to hold on. When he got on the line, I told him I received his response.

I assured him no one would enforce the fifteen year old restraining order. I told him he could sit with my future in-laws or, if he'd prefer, near a wall since I knew his time in Vietnam left him uneasy in an open room. I told him I'd sit him anywhere he wanted if only he'd reconsider.

"I can't do it, Babe. I just can't. I hope you understand," he said flatly.

I bit the inside of my cheek. "I don't," I said, hoping he didn't hear my voice crack.

He finally broke the silence, "Will I ever hear from you again?"

"I don't know."

I hung up, honestly not knowing the answer to his question.

Submitting this post to the challenge grid at yeah write. Come check out the most supportive community for blogging writers you could ever hope to find.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I Can't Blog With Paper on the Laptop.

Ten days without an update. Eek! Egads. Yikes. Stuff like that.

I woke up last Thursday (that's LAST, as in the tenth of October), with a scratchy throat.  I figured it was allergies.  I figured wrong.  I seem to have contracted a small form of death.  Coughing, sneezing, fatigue, general malaise.  It's fun times.  I've been going to bed at 8:50.  Why such an odd time? Well, when one normally goes to sleep around 9:20, there isn't a whole lot of wiggle room.

Why do I go to sleep at 9:20, you ask, and not just 9:15 or 9:30?  Because. That's why.

I think I'm finally starting to see the tail end of this cold, which would be great since I'm really tired of feeling like crap.

Next month I'll be participating in NaBloPoMo.  That's National Blog Posting Month for those of you unaware. I did this last year, with moderate success (I missed one day that I made up about 8 hours into the following day).  I'm hoping to do better this year by planning my posts via an editorial calendar. The problem is that I was so busy saving posts for next month that I sort of forgot to keep planning posts for this month. And I was in a phlegmy haze too.  You'll forgive me right?

So I have some good stuff planned for next month, with about 10 days of posts planned. I'll be hooking up with BlogHer and yeah write this year as well because these things are just more fun when other people are involved. That translates roughly to mean that I want better traffic.  It's all about the numbers, people. (No, it's not.) {Yes, it is.}

November is also known as NaNoWriMo, which is National Novel Writing Month wherein people shoot to write a novel during the month.  I don't write novels, so I'm not doing that.  I decided to make up NaMeWriMo, National Memoir Writing Month.  I won't finish mine in one month, but I hope to work on it every day of the month.  Maybe if I do that I'll actually hit my goal of finishing the first draft this year.  I doubt it.

I also acknowledge that I may not have made up NaMeWriMo but I'm too lazy to go look it up. So if I bit off your idea, sorry.

I wanted to give you a quick glimpse into my life these days.  I have done that.  I need to wrap this up because my child has ripped up and crumpled three sheets of paper and he is throwing them at me while I type.  This makes blogging more difficult than you'd think. I'm trying to finish this last sentence while he gathers his scraps into a pumpkin shaped bucket. Too late, he just dumped them on the keyboard.

Hooking up with yeah write's weekend moonshine grid. That's fun times, for reals.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wellness Wednesday: RIP Edition.

Well, it looks like Wellness Wednesdays are going down and for a variety of reasons.

1. How often can you hear me say I wish I ate better/exercised more/took care of myself and then not do any of those things?

2. Committing to write on the same topic every week feels more like being backed into a corner and less like fun. And blogging is supposed to be fun right?

3. I was going to miss another week this week, so I might as well just pull the plug instead.

4. The reason I was going to miss this week? I'm unwell! Ha. How funny is that?

(I'm not dying or anything, I just have a very bad headache.)

So why am I writing a post to say I'm not going to write a post? Because I like closure. And in case anyone says, "Hey, what happened to your wellness thing?" then I can just say, "I totally blogged about killing it. Did you miss that riveting post?"

It doesn't mean I'm giving up on my well-being and I'll likely still write about it from time to time, but from week to week? Still fat, still eating pizza, still not exercising enough, blah, blah, blah.

That's it. Farewell Wellness Wednesday. It's been real.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


I'm depressed again. I realized it a few days ago. I thought I was just tired, but then there was what should have been a slight disappointment that actually felt more like a devastating blow. I cried about nonsense that I knew was nonsense but cried anyway. I didn't feel better after I cried and that's when I knew.

And just like I knew I was depressed I know that it will pass. I need to ride out this storm and it will all be over eventually.

I yelled at Nathan the other day. He acted poorly, I asked him for some space and when he not only didn't go into the other room like I asked but acted even more poorly, I lost it. We've been talking a lot about using our words when we are upset and need space. I used my words and he didn't respect them and I yelled at him. A rational woman would have had better control. A rational woman would not have expected a six year old to respect her need for space.

I don't want to feel this way. I don't want to yell at my kid. My mother used to yell at me like this. I'd do something that I knew I wasn't supposed to do, I'd push buttons, and she'd blow. She'd explode on me in a way I didn't deserve and was excessive considering the infraction.

I was watching TV later that night and one of the characters had to attend the funeral of his father. He turned and looked at the casket and the reaction was one I understand so well, that feeling when you fully realize that your parent is dead. There in a box, or in my case a marble urn, just utterly and completely dead. No longer alive to complain about, or hope someday things will be better, or to see as a burden, or any of the other feelings one could have when a father/son or mother/daughter relationship is complicated beyond measure.

There's a certain comfort in the norm, in the same-shit-different-day life with someone. Even though it may seem like it won't ever end, at some point it does. Things change. People die.

I watched the guy on the sitcom come to terms with his newly dead father by the next commercial break. I remember sobbing in the church at my mother's funeral, feeling completely gutted. To this day, I do not know why I was crying. I guess it was 34 years of cut-short sobbing that flowed forth, unstoppable, a culmination of everything. To see this guy look at his father's corpse, feel the gutting and get over it so quickly and neatly, it didn't feel genuine to me.

I wish I could say I'm depressed about my mother and so I yelled at my kid, but it's not that linear. The depression, the yelling, the grieving, they all happen in swirls around each other, connected, but no one causing the other. Of course I can see how my relationship with my son conjures up unresolved feelings about my relationship with my mother. How I use what I know to not screw it all up, to not do more harm than good, that escapes me. Keeping the past in the past, being the mother he needs amid the uncertainty of the future, that's the difficult thing.

Sometimes I'm still standing in that church, gutted, wondering where I go from here.

Joining my pals on the yeah write grid again this week. Stop by.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Spaghetti and Meatballs.

I just finished the dishes. There weren't that many, just a half dozen or so little plastic bowls from my son's endless stream of snacks and meals since noon. And one frying pan of bacon grease from his dinner. This whole house smells of bacon right now, and not in a good way. In an old bacon sort of way. I could light some candles, but that sounds like a lot of work.

I contemplated getting a marinade together for tonight's grown up dinner which is to be some sort of low fat chicken concoction. I'm not in the mood. I don't want chicken and I don't want to cook.

What I want is spaghetti and meatballs. Homemade by someone's Italian grandmother would be ideal, but I'll even settle for take out. I'm not going to make it though, that's for sure. If I'm going to cook, it's going to be that damn low fat chicken concoction.

Last week I was on a major high from being at a blogging conference.  Now, at this moment? Not so much. It's Sunday night - bath night, get ready for school and work tomorrow night, I'm just too tired from the weekend night. Nathan has been talking to me for about 13 hours now and I've heard most of it, except for maybe what he was saying when I was hiding in an exceptionally long shower.

Spaghetti and meatballs would help. Instead, we'll be having some sort of low fat stupid chicken concoction.

I don't want to clean up whatever I cook for dinner.  This is the trouble with cooking two dinners (and two lunches and two breakfasts). I have to clean up two dinners. And let's not forget all the snacks and the half dozen little plastic bowls necessary to deliver such snacks.

I'm supposed to be eating healthy again, but since my trip I'm not in the mood.  I want to eat all sorts of junk. Today, in fact, I stopped to get a coffee and a doughnut in an attempt to pick myself up. You generally can't beat a sugar/caffeine combo to wake a person up, but sadly, today, it didn't work. I could still just slip right into a coma if someone would stop talking long enough to let me sleep.

You know what helps ACS (Almost Coma Syndrome)? Spaghetti and meatballs. It's been proven. Carbs and protein. Sounds reasonable, right?

But we're not having spaghetti and meatballs for dinner tonight. We're having the chicken.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wellness Wednesday Week 8

I think it's week 8.  It is right? Anyone have a calendar handy?

I missed last week. No one complained. As a result I shall ponder the fate of this feature.

Last Wednesday night I was preparing to go to a conference. Remember that 10 day mega diet I was on to try to drop massive weight before I left? Yeah, it didn't really work out. I was super careful with food for 8 of the 10 days, but there was no exercise. Unless stressing and running around packing and doing laundry counts.  Or running up and down the stairs from my bedroom to the full length mirror to see if my outfits were cute enough.

While away, I drank way too much coffee and soda and didn't exactly eat well.  I didn't eat too much, but many of my choices weren't so great. Luckily I didn't gain too much weight while I was gone. I brought my workout stuff to the conference, but I couldn't put my sneakers on because I decided to tattoo my foot. I didn't plan it that way, but I'm not really complaining about it either.

Here are my stats as of the end of September.

  • Miles walked/run this year: 73.59
  • Miles walked/run in September: 16.56
  • 18 of 30 days I cooked at home. Of the 12 I didn't, 5 were when I was travelling. So not great, but not bad either, considering.
  • I have no clue how many days I exercised. I think about 8-10.
  • Weight lost since starting all this: 6.8 pounds.
  • I totally bailed on my crunch and jumping jack challenges.
I'm easing back into things this month. By "easing back" I mean that I ate bread and butter before dinner because I was starving. And I ate an ice cream sandwich after lunch because I wanted to.  Maybe I'll walk tomorrow. Maybe I won't. I know for a lot of people exercising helps them alleviate stress, but for me, adding exercise into a super full day stresses me out.  So we'll just see what happens.

I feel like I'm beating to death the theme of accepting myself for who I am, shortcomings and all, but it's the truth. There was a time when I would have traveled and done even worse with my diet. It doesn't really look like I did well, but I know how much worse it could have been. 

Maybe I won't do this weekly and I'll change it to a monthly thing. I'll have to give it some thought.  

For now though, I'm going to go make some cheeseless tacos and veggies for dinner, even though I'd really rather order Chinese.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Just Write: What I Learned at the Type A Parent Conference

I am going to be honest and tell you that I don't know how to write a recap post. This blog tells my stories, so that's what I'm going to do here. You and I both know that the internet will be flooded with recaps that will actually do the speakers justice, so you can check them out when you're done here.

You're not leaving yet, right?

Type A was my second conference ever. My first was one of the larger conferences and, while I got quite a bit out of it, it was too big for me. I'd been told that Type A was more intimate, more of a community, but seeing truly was believing on this one. The people, my goodness the people I met, made this such a wonderful experience that when I was in my room on Sunday night after the last party, I cried because I was leaving a new community that I'd come to really love in the previous few days.

I have a pile of business cards from wonderful people and a whole new group of blogs to check out. I heard some great stories and I look forward to reading more from these writers.  I got better at telling what my blog is and passed out a few cards of my own.  If you're here for the first time, please do leave me a comment and say hi. That would make me so happy.

I have pages and pages of notes to read through.  I attended wonderful keynotes and panels and a hands on workshop run by amazing people.  I'll give you a list at the bottom of who inspired me. The message that I kept hearing, because I really do believe that we take away from these things what we need to, that message was to write. To write it out. To tell my story. I need to tell it. I need to write. Followers will come (and go, but that's OK), I may not have sponsors or paid gigs or receive free stuff and that's OK, too. I need to write.


And no one can make that happen but me. No one will take it more seriously than I do. No one is going to move schedules and juggle responsibilities to get the writing done. No one.

Michelle, no one cares about this like you do. Sit down and write that story.

Over and over, it was as if the speaker was looking right at me and telling me to prioritize, to really think about what I'm doing and where I'm headed and to write. That's a lot to take in over the course of a few days. My head is still spinning and my plate is just as full as it was when I left. And the writing will get done. It will get done.

I'd love to tell you that all of the inspiration caused me to run out and get myself a tattoo. It might have, but I beat it to the punch and got the tattoo first. I had wanted a third tattoo for a long time, but there was a long list of reasons why I didn't. Notice I didn't say couldn't. I didn't. But this weekend, I did.

Across the side of my right foot, I had myself inked with these words. So now, every single day, no matter what else is going on, the reminder is there to just write. To just sit down and write and the words and the story will come out. No one is going to remind me the way I can remind myself.

So that's it. That's what I have to say about the conference. I recommend it, the content, the speakers, the organization of it all, fantastic, wonderful, amazing.  It was worth my time, my money, my energy, missing my family, having to wait 24 hours to watch the series finale of Breaking Bad.  All worth it. I plan to go next year. I plan to leave more room in my suitcase for takeaways and wear some warmer clothes, but that's it on my advice to you.

So which speakers really spoke to me? Here goes, in the order I saw them:

This isn't to say they were the only good, and I know just saying that I thought they were awesome isn't enough and they deserve better, but it's all I have, what with  my swimmy-brain and exhaustion and all.

Ooh, one other thing.  If you're reading this and you are one of the lovely people I hung out with, spent time with, chatted with, please know you left an impression. Your words, your passion for your subject, your life, your advice to me, all of it mattered. There are too many to list and I would forget someone and feel just terrible about it.  But I want you to know, if we spoke, even briefly, I'm grateful you made the time to chat with me. Thank you.

When all is said and done, when I'm back sitting on my couch thinking on the weekend I just had, it comes down to this:

If you have a dream, go do it. That's it. It's that simple (yes, and that hard, but that's not the point here). No one will make your dreams come true for you. Go make yours happen. I'm going to go work on mine.

I'm adding this to the yeah write challenge grid. If you're new here, click the badge above to be taken to one of the most inviting writing communities around.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What Do I Want?

What do I want?

That's a really loaded question and I guess I probably should tell you right off the bat that I'm not sure.

Sometimes when I'm watching a movie or at a concert or event, I think about how I will feel about it when it's over.  Then I can't wait for it to BE over so I can know what I thought.

Wait.  Let me clarify:  I want to know what I WILL think about it while I'm watching it and forming that eventual opinion.

That doesn't make any sense really, but I hope you can at least get the literal meaning, even if you don't understand why in the world someone would do this (I don't even know why I do this).

So in response to the question of what do I want, I often start thinking about what I'll think when it's all over.  In the last moment of life, what will I think of my life?  Why in the world am I thinking this way?

Maybe it stems from wanting to do everything right.  As I lay dying, I can run down a bullet point list of everything I was supposed to do and check off, one by one, all I did, tally it all up and score myself on a 100 point scale.  Did I parent right? Check! Did I publish my book? Check!

(or not check, I don't want to seem too sure of myself here.)

I guess if I knew what I wanted, I could get there with at least a little more ease.  At 37, aren't I supposed to have a direction?  More to the point, I think I have too many directions.  How do you walk 4 ways at once?  You don't.  You just stand there.

I spend so much time doing stuff. Is this what people do?  Do they just DO STUFF and then sleep and then do more stuff? Maybe my goals are too high.  Maybe I have the same life everyone else has and I'm the only one wondering if it's the right thing.

There was a time I wanted to be a poet and a philosopher. It occurred to me that these were highly impractical career choices.  I sometimes think it would be better to have been born in ancient times when those were Things People Were. Can you imagine? All I have to do today is think.  That's it.  But I suspect even the great thinkers had other stuff to do.  Maybe not.

Maybe blogging and writing is modern day philosophizing.  Maybe I am what I always wanted to be, I just don't always let myself just be.

This is my first SOC Sunday link up Jana's Thinking Place.
This is my 5 minute, unedited brain dump.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

So Much.

In my senior year of high school, if I remember correctly, I was very busy. There was, in no particular order, debate, cheering, the school paper, band, national honor society, French national honor society, the literary magazine, student council, several advanced placement classes, my after school job, caring for my mother, my friends, my boyfriend, and a whole host of other things I'm probably now forgetting.  Granted, most of this didn't happen at the same time, but I was almost always busy and almost always had too much to do.

Right now, my life is just as overscheduled.  There is, in no particular order, my marriage, my child, my house, my job, my blog, my memoir, my gig at yeah write, the PTA, my fitness goals, my friends, and probably a whole host of other things I'm probably forgetting. This is not to imply, of course, that my husband and son are things to be scheduled or "to do" but I'm just making the point that having people in my life (and my house) means that they come with responsibilities and that means there are things to do.  I wouldn't change any of that for the world.


I have filled my days with so much to do for as long as I can remember.  I'm not complaining, though perhaps it sounds that way.  This is just the way it is.

It's not that I can't say no.  It's that I can't stop myself from offering up my assistance. I can't stay uninvolved.  I jump in and do, even to the point where I overwhelm myself.  If I'm not 110% busy, then something isn't right.

I don't know why it's this way.  I can't say that I've ever explored this deep need to be needed, wanted, or thought of as necessary to the mere survival of everything around me.  But it's there.

How nice it would be, when I finally drop dead, to have people just stand around wondering how they're going to carry on without me.  Not weeping or inconsolable, mind you, just contemplating the void I will leave now that I'm gone.

It likely won't happen, save for a few circumstances where I like to think I do make that much of a difference. Let's face it, I'm not one of a kind in most scenarios.

It's not as though the realization, which isn't new, that I am not actually necessary to the survival of most people and things hurts me.  It just is.  PTAs and jobs and laundry all existed long before I did and they will continue to go on until the world stops spinning.  That's OK. In fact, I may duck out of those things at one time or another and who will really notice or care?  That's also OK.

So why does it matter? I don't know. It probably doesn't. And yet I get up each day and tackle all of these things as though all of them are the most important thing I could be doing at any given moment.

I don't want or need anyone to praise me simply for being around, but I like to pretend that in their minds they are doing it.  I like to feel important, even if I'm not. I don't mean that to ask you to pity me and tell me I am important.  I know where I am and where I am not, I just mean where I'm not I like to pretend that I am.

I could likely spend thousands of dollars and hours in psychoanalysis trying to get a handle on all of this if I felt the inclination.  Sometimes I consider it.  Most times I don't.

I often wonder what I would do if I didn't feel the need to do all of the things.  Some day I'll find out.  But for now, there is just so much to do.

Hanging out with the cool people at the the moonshine grid.  You should stop by.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Wellness Wednesday Week 6

OK, do me a favor and don't point out that it's Friday please.

This week has really gotten away from me.  Between nearly cutting off my thumb and a zillion other commitments, I've run myself ragged.  I had a PTA meeting on Wednesday night and since I'm not one of those people who schedules posts, I didn't get this up on time.  Then yesterday I was busy still catching up on other stuff, so here we are.  Friday.

I have fallen off the jumping jack and crunch wagon.  I'm now behind by about 800 JJs and 110 crunches.  I will try (maybe) to catch up, but again, busy.

I had to take a few days off walking as well because my schedule just didn't allow it.  I guess I didn't plan well enough for my Atlanta trip next week because I'm scrambling to get ready and it's eating up my lunch hours.  It is what it is.  I'm giving myself permission to suck this week because there really isn't any other choice.

I decided on Monday that I was going to start a super strict 10 day diet in an effort to fit into my conference clothes. It's low-calorie, low-fat, low-food-in-general.  Please don't point out that it's probably not the healthiest idea.  I know this.  When I get back, I will head back up to a more moderate diet plan.  I'm down about 1.5 pounds since Monday and the jeans I want to wear next week can be buttoned but are uncomfortable.  I just want to look less bulky in the middle and so far the diet is accomplishing that.

I admit that it's very vain to be this concerned with how I look, specifically when I'm doing all I can to drop weight fast.  But I know when I don't have as much control over my food while I'm away I'll put a few pounds back on and then the week of 10/1 I will try to even things out.

So, there's really nothing to report, except that I offer you up proof that this is not a completely straight-line path to losing weight.  If all I had to do in my whole day was manage my health, I'm sure I'd be awesome at it.  However, with all of the other things, I truly can only do what I can do.  That means some weeks are not going to be so great, and I guess that's OK.

Hopefully I won't bail on you next week because of the conference.  As much as I'm saying bail on you, I'm hoping I don't bail on me.  This feature is my way to remind myself that I am doing well at this, just not every single minute of every single day.  And when you all comment and tell me that you struggle too, well, that helps me see that none of us are perfect.

Have a great and healthy as possible weekend!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Hidden Dangers of Dieting.

Eating better was supposed to be good for my health.

Attempting to get a jump on the day, I stood at the counter at 7:30 Tuesday morning shredding lettuce. I prefer my lettuce shredded, not torn. I find torn lettuce quite bothersome as it does not fit neatly into a bowl, onto a fork, or into my mouth. I was deep in thought, contemplating the superiority of shredded lettuce when I heard little feet stomp into the kitchen.  I turned my head to see what the owner of the feet needed. The lettuce shifted. I continued shredding. Oh shit.

This is the embarrassing part where I was swearing in front of my child.

Never one to pick up on the obvious,  Nathan asked what happened. Between winces, I told him I cut myself. Blood was pouring out of a half inch wide by half inch deep gash I made in my thumb. I grabbed paper towels to apply pressure. Thankfully, the knife, lettuce, and cutting board were blood free because I would have been really pissed if I had ruined my lunch.

"Mommy, I was going to ask you for another show and more granola, please, but are you OK?"

"Thanks for asking, buddy. I'm fine. I'll get your stuff but then I think I might need to go to the hospital." I mentally patted myself on the back for remembering to praise him for his empathy.

I handed him the box of granola, queued up another Adventure Time,and went to find my husband.  Armed with a bandage and a towel, I found some shoes and headed for the door, but not before grabbing my coffee.  Yes, my coffee. Gaping hole in my hand or not, I need my coffee.

The child had already forgotten what happened and asked where I was going.  He was horrified to learn that I wouldn't be able to walk him to school.  Apparently the empathy was fleeting.

After a 75 minute wait at the "urgent" care facility, I saw the nurse.  She asked if I thought I needed stitches.  I resisted the urge to respond that I was paying them to make that determination. She doused my wound with peroxide and betadine, then called me a wuss for saying it hurt. I eventually saw the doctor who informed me that she didn't think I needed stitches, but she'd use the fancy steri-strips to close up my digit, then wrap it.

Another man, whom I assumed worked there, came into the room. He looked at my hand, sucked wind through his teeth, and said helpful things like, "Wow, that's deep!" and "Oof, I bet that hurts!"  He shook his head a few times, too.   He asked how it happened and I told him I was making a salad.  He seemed genuinely surprised when he asked if I was a chef and I said that I was not.

The doctor jumped in.  "Was the knife rusty?"

Yes, I use a rusty knife to cut lettuce.  Doesn't everyone?

The doctor performed a quick abdominal exam, mentioning that they make her do that for everyone who comes in. I was confused but I thanked her, because I have manners.

Relieved to finally be on my way, two long hours since the ordeal began, I thought about what I learned. My kid isn't as egocentric as I thought, I would be wise to not find a reason to return to the urgent care facility, and I may want to look into the bagged lettuce for future salads.

Even though I'm injured, I'm joining my friends on the yeah write challenge grid.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Time Flies.

Time flies when you're not blogging. Isn't that a famous quote or something?

As I sat down to write this week's installment of Wellness Wednesday, I realized I hadn't written anything since the prior week's installment. I would love to be one of those people who produces daily content, but lately life has been getting in the way of that.

Who am I trying to kid? I've been too busy to do that for as long as I've been blogging.

This is not to say that those who can blog daily aren't busy, of course they are. I honestly don't know when they write. (Hey, anyone want to clue me in on that one?)

It's not that I don't have ideas. I have a note pad on my desk on which I write all the ideas I have while I'm working. The intention is that when I'm done working I can write the post. Well, the pad is filling up and the posts aren't getting written. I have a book review I want to write, a mom-blog about pop music based on events that took place last June, a social commentary piece about Robin Thicke (if I get it posted within a month of the VMAs, is it still relevant?), and a post about my 2nd blog-versary which came and went on August 24th with nary a mention.

Instead I'm writing this to tell you that I really WANT to write, but I can't seem to find the time.

I am on the go for about 14 hours a day between work, mom-stuff, and keeping house. I sleep about 7 hours. Where am I losing the other 3? It's certainly not to writing. Must investigate this.  

(Note to self:  Write blog post about missing time. Maybe with a sci-fi slant?)

Where else am I spending my time? Well, I was given the opportunity to become a contributing editor over at yeah write. Actually it's more like I weaseled my way in, but no matter. My picture on the editor's page is probably one of the best you'll find of me on all of the internet. I love getting to open the challenge grid on Tuesdays and open the moonshine grid on Fridays. So I *am* writing a minimum of 3 times each week, I just post 2 of them over there. It's a fun community and I'm thrilled to be doing it. If you aren't already aware of it, you should be checking it out.

In less than 2 weeks I'm headed down to the Type A Parent conference in Atlanta.  If you're going to be there, please look for me and say hi, K?  That means there's lots of planning and practice packing and then for real packing and more planning to do.  I also have back to school night and the year's first PTA meeting coming up.  It seems to me that I'm going to be just as busy in the coming weeks as I have been, but you know what?  I'm looking forward to it.

Just let me grab another cup of coffee.

I'm adding my little brain dump into the mix at the yeah write moonshine grid.  Almost anything goes over there, so head on over and maybe link up a post of your own!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wellness Wednesday 5: Test Results and New Motivation

Hey, remember when I first started this and I told you about missing blood work?  I finally had it redone and got the results on Monday.  There's some good news and some bad news.  The good news is that the results are probably a really good indication of why I've been so tired lately.

The bad news?  Well, there are three parts to it.

First, my fasting blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c tests both came back high.  Not ridiculously high, mind you, but just over the OK limit.  What's the other side of the OK limit called?  It's called prediabetes, folks.  So, yeah.

Second, my Vitamin D is very low.  When I last had these tests done, about 2 years ago, it was low then, too.  I took a prescription D pill and the number went up after three months.  It's back down now, so I'm back on the prescription.  It's a mega dose that I have to take once a week for 12 weeks, then we retest.  Low Vitamin D is linked to fatigue, so it makes sense that no matter how well I would sleep I'd still feel like hell.  What is most disturbing about this is that there is a link between Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis, the disease that killed my mother.  From what I've read it's not clear if it's a cause or effect of the disease, but either way I'm not comfortable with it.  I can't do anything about it except to take better care of myself, so that's what I'm going to do.

Finally, my cholesterol is just inside the healthy range.  Many years ago it was quite high, but with diet and exercise I lowered it.  Last time I had tests it was OK, but it's gone up since.  I haven't been going in the right direction these last few years.

At the moment, I'm still 28 pounds from the top of my healthy weight range (I'm down 5 the healthy way, so yay for that).  Obviously I knew that there was a chance that these tests were going to show signs that my excess weight was starting to really impact my overall health.  Did I think we'd be throwing around the word diabetes?  No, not really.  But we are.

The doctor has advised, again obviously, that I lose weight.  She wants me to exercise regularly (we'll get to that in a minute) and watch what I eat.  She has suggested less carbs, low fat, low sugar.  I'm tempted to ask what that leaves for me to eat, but I know the answer to that even if it's an answer I don't really want to hear.  I know how to eat well, I just don't know how to not get bored.  I don't know how to not eat my feelings.  I don't know how to say no to foods I know I shouldn't eat.

So what about this exercise?  So far this month, I've walked 10.06 miles.  I didn't walk today because it's hotter than the sun out there.  I've done 1,600 jumping jacks and 405 crunches over the last 11 days, which now that I've written it doesn't really sound like a whole lot.  My calves and "abs" would argue that point, though.  I missed one day but made it up the next, which was a terrible thing.  No more missing days.

I've learned two things about jumping jacks:  After having a baby, jumping with anything other than a completely empty bladder is dangerous. Sad but true. I'm considering exercising in the bathroom from now on. Also, I need to wear a bra while doing The Jacks.  You'd think that would be a no-brainer, but ladies, you know how it is when you take that bra off for the day.  It's not going back on no matter what. Must jump before the bra comes off.

One other thing - watching my son do jumping jacks is about the most hilarious thing ever.  I really do love when the wants to jump with me.  If only watching extreme cuteness could burn calories...

Seriously though, I was pretty motivated before this week. Those test results just added fuel to my fire.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wellness Wednesday: Week 4

Things are going better this week than last, thank goodness.  I can already feel the air starting to cool a bit.  Fall is my favorite season and I always equate September first with a time of renewal for my spirit and goals.

Let me recap August for you.
  • 21/31 days I cooked dinner at home.  That number includes the virus week when one night I made saltines and another night I made nothing.
  • 6/31 days I exercised.  The worst part of that is three of those days I was sick with the constantly mentioned virus.  I'm going to really work on this for September.
  • By the end of August I have completed 57.03 miles of my 100 mile walk/run goal.
  • I only had soda one time in August, which is huge because I love me some soda.
  • I am down 4 pounds.
I didn't just start keeping these stats for the blog, I keep this sort of log often.  I have a color coded calender with highlights and all, just for fun.  I find it to be a good motivational tool for me.

Here are my September goals:
  • I'm doing a 30 day crunch challenge. The last day is 165 crunches, but I'm not going to think about that right now.
  • I'm also doing a 30 day jumping jack challenge because I like to go overboard.  The last day is 750 jumping jacks, but I'm not going to think about that right now.
  • I'm shooting for 30 miles of run/walk in 30 days.  I'm not sure that's attainable, but we'll see.
  • If I can't walk/run outside, I will allow marching in place inside as a substitute.  30 minutes will equal 1 mile for the record.  I think that's fair.
  • No breakfast or lunches from outside the house on weekdays.  Eating at home only.
  • Eat at home as much as possible for dinner, and that does not mean taking dinner from a restaurant to the home.  However, if we eat leftovers from a takeout meal, that counts.
I'm headed to the Type A Parent Conference at the end of the month, so I know that's going to put a strain on some of my challenge goals.  Ideally I can hit the gym at the hotel in the mornings.  I'll just do the best I can and make sure that the rest of the month is as good as possible so that a few days of diversions doesn't derail me.

Also, today is an anniversary for me. I have not had any alcohol for a year. I wrote a whole post about it, but it's not ready.  Or maybe I'm not ready. I'm sure I'll share it eventually, just not yet. But I will tell you this:  I truly believe that of all the decisions I make daily regarding my health, this one just may be the most important.

Happy September everyone.  I'll see you here next Wednesday for Week 5.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Tape Dispenser.

My first grade teacher, Miss Keating, was possibly the kindest teacher I've ever had. I had an intense fear of doing the wrong thing and getting in trouble. I wanted my teacher to love me and, for the most part, she did. I was punctual, respectful, and I always did my homework. I was perhaps a bit too chatty, but I always shut up when she gave me The Look.

One afternoon, she warned the class that she would be out the following day and we were to treat the substitute exactly as we'd treat her. Anyone who acted up in her absence would "get it" and since this was back when teachers could say you'd get it, you believed.

As someone with a lifelong history of taking things not necessarily directed at me incredibly personally, I was sure she was talking to me.

The day with the substitute was going fine. As we cleaned up our final art project, I walked the tape dispenser back to Miss Keating's desk to return it to the exact spot from which I'd borrowed it. As someone with a lifelong history of mishaps, I tripped over a chair, lost my grip on the dispenser and sent it sailing across the floor. We found the tape, and the massive black holder, but that little round do-hickey that holds it in place was gone. I crawled along the entire floor and couldn't find it anywhere.  The substitute announced it was time to go home. Despite my anguish, I was forced to give up the search.

I was certain the next day I was going to get it.

I cried all afternoon, all evening and then again the next morning. My mother, ever the non-worrier, sent me to school with a note in my backpack that likely said something along the lines of, "My kid is losing her shit over here, please don't be too hard on her or she may never stop crying." Miss Keating had a reputation for teasing in a gentle way, but as someone with a lifelong habit of not always being able to take a joke, sometimes people have to tread lightly with me.

The next morning, I immediately raised my hand to tell my teacher I had a note from my mom. I approached the desk, head hanging low, as if headed to my own execution. I stood there while my teacher read, my heart beating wildly in my chest, trying desperately and unsuccessfully not to let tears fall in front of the whole class. When she was done, she looked up with a smile.

"Michelle. Is this the tape you dropped?" she pointed to her dispenser, tape roll secured in place by the do-hickey.

I was in shock, but managed to squeak out that it was indeed the tape in question.

"It's not broken. Stop crying."

She said that the do-hickey had been found by the janitor, probably under a bookcase or desk, and was left for her that morning. The substitute had left her a note because I had been so distraught. She went on to explain the difference between innocent accidents and intentional defiance. She told me I was silly to be so scared. She wasn't angry at me. I felt loved and safe.

And then she hugged me, because this was back when a teacher could hug her students.

Submitting this to yeah write, two days before my son enters first grade.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Please Stop Calling Me.

Some time ago, I wrote this post about how I came home every day to messages on my landline answering machine, most of which weren't for me.

Now that I work from home, I have the pleasure of hearing the phone ring in real time.  Because I can't just sit there and let it ring, I always go to check the caller ID.  I find that if I don't pick up the telemarketing calls, they call repeatedly until I do.  I'm hoping if I answer all the calls, maybe some day they'll stop.  It's been 5 months.  They haven't stopped yet.

I still get the calls for the auto parts store and collection agency courtesy calls for people I don't know, but they are not the bulk of my calls.

Rick Santorum called me the other day.  I've also gotten calls from the Tea Party.  I don't know if they know I don't agree with their politics and they're calling in the hopes they can turn me.  Or, maybe, they know and they're calling to annoy me (that might be working).  Or someone sold my number to the right-wing out of spite.

I get many, many calls from local agencies wondering if I have any household items or clothing to donate.  Lupus and Big Brother/Big Sister call me twice per month.  It seems like there will always be a truck in my area and that the driver can even give me a tax deductible receipt for my charitable donation.  (Is this supposed to imply that my receipt is tax deductible?)

Yesterday I did ignore a call.  It comes up on my phone as Children's Cancer.  The first time they called a few months ago, the time I answered, the woman asked if I could make a donation.  I don't make my donations based on phone calls, I have charities that I support and so I politely declined.  She was insistent that even my small $20 donation could make a difference and I replied that I'd already made my donations for that time period and I was tapped out.  And then she said this to me:

"Don't you care about children with cancer?"

Holy crap.  Was she kidding me?  That sort of line has to be in some manual of telemarketing don'ts.  With that question, there was no way I was going to make a donation, even if there was some chance she could have changed my mind, which there wasn't in the first place.  It wasn't that I don't care about kids with cancer, it was that I had already made my donations for the period and I was tapped out.  Like I said.

So when Children's Cancer called me again, I didn't answer.

We've also been getting calls for my husband's business at home.  I've turned down more "merchant services" offers than I care to count pretending to be the owner.  Since they only ask if I'm the owner and don't name the business or my husband, I just say yes.  I own some things, so, sure, I'm the owner.

Shortly after the Children's Cancer call, I received one from Private Caller, which I always answer in case it's a real person trying to find me.  Yesterday it was Kyle, calling to see if my husband wanted to support something with police and kids and an anti-drug program.  I said not now, but thanks.  He assured me that my "small, one-time $50 donation could make a difference and show that our business is against drugs."  OK, no doubt it would, but no thanks.  And then he said this:

"Surely you can make one small donation of $50 show that your business supports the war on drugs.  You can afford that, right?  Your business IS against kids taking drugs, right?"

I briefly considered saying that the business actually IS for drugs, but decided that probably wasn't a good idea.  Of course we are against kids taking drugs.  Way to strong arm a gal.  I again politely declined and his last ditch effort was to again tell me that of course we can afford $50.  Oh, can we?  Is he our bookkeeper now?  Awfully presumptuous and rude.  Whether the business can or can't isn't the issue.  Here's a tip- tell me what exactly you'll do with my donation and maybe you can sway me.

You won't sway me, but at least that is an effort I'll respect.

I wish the phone would stop ringing.  I wish everyone would stop calling me.  I wish I could just learn to ignore the phone.

Hooking up with my buddies at the moonshine grid this weekend.  Come check us out!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wellness Wednesday: Week 3

You guys, I'm tired.  I am so tired, in fact, that I can't even use the word exhausted to describe it because I don't have the strength to use a three syllable word when a two syllable word will suffice.

In the spirit of honesty, here are some fun facts.

  • I have not exercised since I wrote last week's post.
  • I have gained back about 1.5 pounds from the virus loss.  I knew that was coming, but still.
  • I am going to eat pizza tonight, and garlic bread.  And then I intend to have ice cream.
I'm PMSy. That's probably why I'm so tired.  Eating so much isn't going to help and will probably just make me feel worse, but there's just no stopping it now.  In my head I know that if I was at a healthy weight with a solid exercise plan and proper eating habits, the severity of my PMS would likely not be so bad.  Getting out of this cycle is way hard.

And it really is one terrible cycle.  I eat when I'm tired.  I've known this for a long time. I drink too much coffee, then I have trouble sleeping.  I'm already feeling the hormonal fatigue and then I dump a ton of crap on top of it.  Exercising?  Yeah, right.  As if that's going to happen in this condition.

{My husband just walked in with dinner.  Pardon me while I go stuff my face.}

So, I'm done eating now.  I ate my ice cream, too.  I'm not exactly thrilled with myself at the moment.

It all goes back to being so tired.  If I didn't feel like complete crap tonight, I'd have cooked the dinner I'd planned.  If I had willpower...  if I wasn't PMSing...  if... if... if...

It's 9:15 p.m.  I'm going to go to sleep shortly after I publish this.  I hope that I didn't drink so much coffee that I'll be up in the middle of the night like last night.  I hope that I wake up slightly less tired than I am now.

That's it.  That's my life as it happens.  I'm not sugar coating, I'm not woe-is-me-ing.  This is honestly how it goes.  I could say something super positive like gee whizz, tomorrow's a new day and I'm going to be great tomorrow.  But that would be bullshit.  This isn't a new scenario for me and old habits die hard.  Tomorrow *is* a new day and I do hope I'll do better.  But be great?  Unlikely.  Such is life.

Until next time...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wellness Wednesday - Week 2.

Last week I started a weekly feature here about my journey toward better health.  I affectionately called it Status of the Fat Ass.  I offered up a cookie to someone who could give it a better name and I'm going to go with Carinn's suggestion of Wellness Wednesday.  Carinn, what's your poison? Chocolate chip?  Oatmeal raisin?

I mentioned last week that I was certain I had come down with the stomach virus my son was just getting over.  Turns out I was right, and today is my first normal food day in a week.  I haven't had an illness like that in 25 years and I really hope that doesn't happen again any time soon.

I still managed to walk on three separate days (once twice).  I also spent Saturday and Sunday running around my house for various cleaning projects.  A smarter woman probably would have rested, but unless I'm dying, I generally don't give in to illness.  I'm stubborn that way.

The upside of this virus is that I am down 5 pounds.  Sure I lost them in the most unhealthy way possible and I certainly don't advocate not eating for a week as a way to lose weight, but if I had to get a virus, losing a little bloat was a nice perk.

The downside of this virus is that I'm still feeling dehydrated.  I'm not great about drinking water, so when my stomach rejects everything I put into it, even the little bit I did manage to drink, um, evacuated promptly.  Monday night my eyes were feeling particularly dry, something I battle even on the best of days, and in trying to remove my contact it actually stuck to my eye and ripped in half.  So I'm *trying* to drink more water now.

I had casually set a goal of walking/running 100 miles in 2013, but I had only really mentioned it to a few friends.  I decided to go public with it here.  After today's 2 miler, my total to date is 57.03 miles.  I think I'm still on track to make it to 100 miles, so I'm pleased with that.

I'm not setting a weight loss goal other than to eventually get to a healthy weight.  My thinking here is that if I set better eating goals and goals for exercise, I will lose weight by default.  Also, I know losing 1-2 pounds per week is healthy and the thought of not hitting a healthy weight for almost a year is a bit overwhelming.  I'm going to focus on healthy habits and let the weight take care of itself.

Part of having a healthy lifestyle is to have a healthy mind.  I'm trying not to go overboard, trying not to get discouraged by the long road ahead of me, and trying not to think about about the fact that the changes I need to make are forever changes, not short-term.  There will be setbacks, slip ups, days where I make poor choices, and many other obstacles.  My hope is that I treat them as obstacles and not complete blocks.  I'd like to learn from them and make better choices in the future.

This past week hasn't been a good indicator of how I'm doing.  That's life, I guess.  Hopefully this week will give me more opportunities to practice some healthy habits.

Have you made little changes that have added up in big ways? Share them with the class!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Our Friend Seaweed.

Our family lost a beloved pet today.  Seaweed, our 2 1/2 year old goldfish, has died.

There were many fish before him.  Most lived only a few weeks, which I suppose is pretty common.  They swam around, ate their food, and generally didn't do anything noteworthy except die quickly.

S'weed, as he was often called, was different.  He knew us and when we'd walk into Nathan's room, he'd start swimming wildly.  He would "yell" at us for food by swimming to the top of the water and shaking his head while making fish-face.  He liked to swim upside down, often giving us a scare.  A quick tap on tank and he'd right himself, as if laughing that we fell for his hijinks again.

Seaweed cheated death twice.  Both times he somehow sucked in a small piece of gravel from the bottom of his tank, presumably to suck something to eat off it.  The gravel got stuck in his mouth and my husband had to use tweezers to pull the piece out.  The first time we thought it was just a weird random thing.  The second time, we bought new larger rocks for his tank.  He survived well over a year after that last incident.

He hadn't been swimming around as much in the last week or so.  He just hung out on the bottom until we fed him, he'd eat and go back down.  Then last night I knew he wouldn't make it through.  I encouraged Nathan to give his tank a hug, blow him a kiss and tell him how much he loves him.  When we got up this morning I saw I was right.

I really never thought I would get this attached to a fish.  But I did.  We're going to miss Seaweed.  He was really special.

Nathan showing S'weed the birthday card he made him last March.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Status of the Fat Ass.

I mentioned before that I was going to start a feature here about my journey toward better health.  I was going to call it Fitness Friday.  The problem is that Fridays aren't a good writing day.  I've been trying to find another catchy title, but I'm at a loss.  I considered Weighty Wednesdays but that made me feel fat and also implies that the sole purpose was about losing weight when in reality it's about being healthy.  Why don't any days start with H?  That would be helpful. Someone get on that.

The next thing I thought of was Status of the Fat Ass.  Say it fast.  It almost rhymes.  But then I remembered how corny I am when I'm trying to be clever.  So while that's the title of today's post, I'm really hoping I come up with something else for next week.

Wednesday is a good day for me to write here, even if it's a quick update, so I think I'm going to stick with that day.  If someone can think of a clever title, maybe even some alliteration with the word Wednesday, feel free to make a suggestion. If I use it, I'll give you a (fat-free, low-cal) cookie next time I see you.

So here goes, the kick off post.  Had I done this two weeks ago, I would have said, "You guys, I weighed myself and I am 159.4 pounds, which is terrible, but at least it's not 160."

Now I can say this:

You guys, I weighed myself on Monday and I am 160.8 pounds.  Which is just terrible.  There is no but.

That weight is appropriate for someone at least five inches taller than I am.  Since I'm not likely to grow, I have a bit of a problem.

But this isn't just about weight.  This is about healthy habits and bad habits, about being active versus being sedentary, and about having a healthy mindset versus a not-so-healthy one.

Today, even though I have picked up the stomach bug my kid just got over, even though my toe is still broken, and even though I was 100% not in the mood for this, I took myself out for a walk because it was just THAT beautiful out.  I managed 1.26 miles.  I'm glad I went.  I'm tired now.

Update: Since I wrote the first draft of this post, I can't even pretend I don't have this stomach virus.  I was pretending I was well when I went for the walk.  Now, not so much.  Oh well.  Sometimes denial works. This time it didn't.

My reason for posting this feature weekly is simple.  I need some accountability.  I need to take care of myself regularly, not sporadically.  Next week I hope to tell you that I made some self-care progress.  For now I'll leave it at that.  I hope you'll join me on this part of my journey.

Update 2:  I had been hoping to have blood test results back by the time I started this feature.  The blood was drawn 2 weeks ago, but I never got results.  So I called and the doctor's office took 2 days to call me back.  Apparently, the lab lost my blood.  How you lose blood is beyond me, but I've been invited back to have more blood drawn, "if I want to."  Yes, that's exactly what I *want* to do. Sigh.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Load of Laundry.

Except for a brief trip to Target, I've been working on cleaning up my inbox all morning.  I have many other tasks I should be working on, but the email is great for my lack of attention span and general lack of wanting to be standing.  Last night I didn't sleep, which is pretty typical, and when my son woke me at 5:15, I was not ready to be awake.  The headache that had finally dissipated after 5 days was back and I wasn't ready for a sick child's attitude.

Nathan came home early from camp on Friday with a low grade fever and vomiting.  He threw up again on Saturday and from noon on he had a fever.  He didn't cool down until around 10pm, even with Motrin.  Today he woke up at 99 and we're up to almost 100 even after Motrin this morning.  And he is cranky as all get out.  Unless by some miracle the fever goes down without medication, we'll be at the doctor tomorrow because I'm not comfortable with this many days of illness without a break.

Yesterday was a long day of running back and forth to the bathroom in a panic he'd be sick.  Once he is sick one time, he worries constantly that he'll throw up again.  He was not in good spirits either and though I was patient with him all day, he finally pushed me to my limit at about 7pm.  He was up at 5:30 yesterday, so I think I did a pretty good job under the circumstances.  (Actually I don't, I feel like shit that I lost my temper at all).   By the time he was asleep, the dinner I planned to cook just was not happening.  We ordered take out and then I dumped  bowl of ice cream down my throat for good measure.

Today I am tired, my head hurts and I'm wiped out.  Nathan's watching a movie with his dad (who also hasn't been feeling well), so I have had the time to work on the emails and write this.  What I had planned to do, cleaning, organizing and purging, isn't happening.  What that ultimately means is that I'm not on my feet at all, not even getting any passive exercise.  And since passive exercise was really all I was aiming for, it's a disappointment.

I've been trying to get back on track with diet and exercise, but I'm stuck in this cycle.  I feel like crap, so I don't exercise.  My toe is still broken and it still hurts like hell, so it's easy to blow it off.  Then, because I didn't do anything physical, it's the perfect excuse to eat garbage.  It's not like I'm negating any hard work, right?  Eating like shit causes me to sleep poorly (heartburn, anyone?), which leaves me sluggish the next day.  I have trouble getting myself to be active on a good day, so on a bad it's that much harder.  Throw in some self-loathing for my sloth- and slob-like ways and it's all just one big mess.

I'm trying to break the cycle, but it's just so hard.  I wanted to start a feature here about how I'm working towards better health with an initial focus on how the little things make such a difference.  Except I'm not even doing the little things, so there's nothing to say.  I told myself once I wrote this post I'd get up and switch the laundry and then vacuum the attic stairs.  If I do that at least it's something. Maybe I'll feel like doing more.  Maybe not, but at least I won't have been sitting all day.  This post is sort of a confession for the posts I haven't written that you didn't even know I'd committed myself to, which is silly, but there it is.

So I'm getting up now to do the laundry. Then I'm going to vacuum the stairs.  I don't want to.  I want to curl up on the couch with a snack and a blanket and watch a movie.  But that's not going to help me. 

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, or maybe a load of laundry.

Linking up with the moonshine grid this weekend.  Why not pop on over and read some other blogs?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Chronic Pain.

I'm on Day 3 of a migraine.  It's a myth that all migraines are the kind where someone must stay in bed with all the lights off and absolute silence.  Some are like that, and then some are the kind I typically get.  I've had the other kind, with the last one happening in July 2002.  It was the worst pain I've ever experienced.  For five grueling hours, it felt like my brain was swelling while my skull simultaneously was shrinking.  I could see but not really and hear but not really.  Wiggling my toes hurt my head. Breathing hurt.  I had to force myself not to cry because that hurt, too.  I contemplated going to the emergency room, but I knew I couldn't walk to the car and the thought of EMTs trying to carry me out of our second floor apartment didn't sound any better.  I waited it out and it broke.  I thank the stars that it hasn't happened since.

This migraine, and the others I get on a monthly basis, are milder, but tend to last longer.  It's been 48 hours since I first woke up Monday morning with this one and after 25 years of them, I know enough to expect it with me most of the day.

I knew it was coming on Saturday when I first began to experience Strawberry Jelly Head.  The back of my head, right around my brain stem, starts to feel like it's turning into strawberry jelly.  Not jam and not any other flavor, strawberry jelly.  I tried to rest on Saturday and Sunday, but clearly that didn't help.

When I woke up Monday morning, my entire head was in pain.  I felt like I had been hit in the back of the head and the face with a bat.  While the pain is mostly always concentrated on the left side, it often radiates everywhere to varying degrees each time.  Now, at Day 3, it's back to the left side, but Monday and Tuesday it was everywhere.

The strangest part is that the pain moves in waves throughout the day like an oscillating fan.  If the intensity of all over pain lets up long enough, I can start to feel the smaller subsections of pain.  The feeling of kabob skewers working their way through my sinus cavities and into the backs of my eyeballs, which feel just as swollen as everything else in my head. My ears feel like someone is hammering nails straight through them, throbbing and aching.  Every step I take sends shooting pains up my neck, through the back of my head, straight to the top.

Once the main event ends, possibly because I've been sufficiently medicated or caffeinated, or it starts to rain (yes, that's always a factor), or any number of other factors occur, there's the lingering after effects I can count on for at least the rest of the day.  The fatigue is unbelievable.  It is exhausting to be in that much pain.

Perhaps the most disturbing though is Marshmallow Brain.  Have you ever microwaved a marshmallow?  First it gets really big.  You keep your finger on the stop button just in case, but you don't press it because you're daring that marshmallow to see just how big it will get before it explodes.  Once the microwave stops, the marshmallow suddenly deflates, becoming a crumpled shell of what it once was.

During the migraine, when everything in my skull feels far too large to fit in there comfortably, I always have a slight worry that this might be the day my eyeballs actually pop.  In time though, everything starts to deflate and my head-contents now feel too small.

This is where I am now.  My head feels like it's leaking, but it doesn't really Hurt with a capital H.  If I stand too quickly or turn my head too abruptly, something in my head feels like it's shifting and clunking into the sides of my skull.  I can eat again without feeling sick and my sinuses loosen the strangle hold they've had and for a brief moment I fear I'm getting a cold on top of everything else.  I can think more clearly, although still a little more slowly than usual, but I'm relieved to no longer have the confusion or inability to finish sentences which usually accompanies the more intense days.  My neck, shoulders and eyeballs are sore from the stress, but, again, this pales in comparison to the ravages of the actual migraine.

Update:  I wrote this earlier this morning, but then things got worse again.  Now, much later in the day, I'm feeling a little more human.  This better be the end of it.

Comments are closed on this post because it's getting killed with spam.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'm Not Sure I Want To Know.

Last time I was there, I fought desperately with the paper gown to stay closed over my ample figure.  This time, after checking my weight and calculating my BMI, the nurse grabbed a gown from the XL drawer, not the L.  I am on the fence about whether or not this was a better outcome.  But at least there was still a little overlap and less risk of potential exposure.

I checked the status of the Band-Aid in the crook of my arm.  The phlebotomist wasn't the worst I've ever had, but she wasn't the best either.  There was no blood to be seen, but I contemplated the anticipated future bruising based on the pain of the needle stick and the seemingly endless amount of blood that was drawn.  I tried to count the days until I should expect the results, but my brain couldn't handle the calculation due to the 14 hour fast I was wrapping up.

I put off this physical for far too long.  Like many people who actively skip seeing a physician, I just don't want to know.  At the same time, I can't ignore the warnings about early detection of illness being one of the best weapons against it. Lately, it seems like every time I turn around, something else hurts.  As I'm beginning yet another thrust toward better health, it seemed like making my appointment was a good place to start.

I have no reason to believe I'm sick, and yet, I have no proof that I'm not.  I can take all of the tests in the world today and tomorrow could be the day it all goes down hill.  I try my best not to think that thought, but sometimes, when I'm not vigilantly fighting it off, it creeps in.

I told the doctor about all the things that concerned me.  Careful watch of her expression told me when I started to sound confusingly crazy.  She told me everything seems fine.  She told me to work on the weight problem.  She told me to rest my broken toe for a few weeks before I run on it again, but to find ways to exercise around it.  She told me to get a mammogram.  She told me they'd call me soon with the blood test results.

She told me not to worry.

I don't want anyone to have to take care of me.  I don't want to be a burden.  It's not the being sick that scares me. It's not even the idea of dying, although maybe a little.  Mostly, the thought of needing others for every facet of my survival is my undoing.  I've seen first hand what a chronic illness can do to a family and it's not what I want for mine.

What if all of my aches and pains aren't just those of a fat, rapidly-approaching-middle-aged woman?  What if they are something worse?  I know the "what ifs" aren't healthy, but living in denial isn't either.

For now, I sit by the phone and wait, not exactly patiently.

So happy to be getting back to my friends at yeah write after a 2 week break.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Back From Vacation.

We returned yesterday from our family vacation.  It was fun, though not in the least bit relaxing.  We swam in the pool, played on the beach, and walked up and down the boardwalk playing games and riding rides.  Vacationing with a six year old isn't a rest because when you're six, what do you really need to relax from?  My child will tell you how terribly taxing it is for him to have to get up and go to camp five days each week and play, but I'll tell you that it didn't stop him from playing the entire five days we were away. By the time we got him to sleep, progressively later each night, we were pretty beat ourselves.

So now it's back to business tomorrow.  All of those "I'll take care of that after vacation" things are coming due.

First up, I need to plan out my trip for the Type A Parent Conference in September.  I've had the emails about the schedule, the speakers, and a need to book my flight for weeks now, but I have been putting it off.  As soon as I finish this post, that's next on my list.  If you're planning to be there, let me know so we can meet up.

I also need to get my health goals back on track.  I fell off the wagon HARD these last few weeks.  As I type this, I'm eating cheese and crackers while drinking a soda.  Tomorrow it's back to fruits and veggies, lean protein and sensible portions.  No more soda, no more take out (except the last of that eggplant parm that I couldn't finish today from last night's dinner).  The small things have been adding up and they've been giving me implied permission for some big cheats.  Actually, things have been so bad lately that eating two pints of ice cream in two days is the norm and eating and orange for breakfast felt more like cheating.

I was going to get back to run/walking/training for my 5k but I dislocated my toe last week, mere hours before we left for the the beach, and now I'm not sure if I can.  Actually, I know I can't tomorrow.  I will be doing weights and very low impact for the near future.  I did put my toe back where it belongs, but it hurts and I'm sure walking in the sand and for miles down the boardwalk didn't help it all last week.  Before you tell me I should see a doctor, I am going for my annual physical (by annual I mean first in over two years) on Tuesday, so I'll see a specialist if she says I need to.

Also on the agenda are my writing and home projects which I hope to devote more time to.  There isn't much to say about those.  I'm trudging along at a snail's pace on the book and my house is currently a mess.  This blog needs some serious attention, too.

Finally, I sort of dropped off the yeah write summer series - 31 days to build a better blog which I feel terrible about.  I'm hoping to catch up on what I missed and at least practice some of the exercises, even if by the time I get to it everyone is already over it.

That's it for me for now.  I'm going to go put my foot up and dig into my to-dos.  At least for a few minutes until I have to get back to mom-life and then pass out somewhere around 8pm.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Reality of Working From Home.

When I started working from home a few months ago, I thought it was going to be perfect.  And while it is pretty wonderful, I was a little bit naive.

1. It's really hot in July and someone else paying to run an air conditioner all day long is something not to be taken for granted.  My workspace is on the second floor and the afternoon sun is brutal.  By 3pm, it's been in the mid-80s since May.  This week, 90+.  I could get another air conditioner for the office, but hello, electric bill.

2.  A lunch hour is still only an hour.  Also, an hour really isn't even that much time if you need to do anything other than eat.  If I have errands to run or I want to work out, I'm still eating while I work when my hour away from my computer is up.

3.  No, my laundry is not caught up. The wash cycle is 27 minutes.  The dryer is 40 minutes.  Folding takes about 15. This means that either I put it in the washer and don't move it to the dryer fast enough, causing it to get stinky and need a rewash, or it sits in the dryer or laundry basket instead of getting put away, so it's all wrinkled. Either way, if I'm working during my scheduled work time, laundry isn't getting done.  Just like if I was in an office.

4. My work stuff is in my house.  I can't really escape it.  It's always there, looking at me when I go into my office.  Also, my home office houses our bills, household filing and my writing work.  So while I'm working, that stuff is staring at me.  Basically whatever thing I'm not doing is sitting there mocking me while I do something else.

5. I can't decompress on my commute, mostly because the 35 seconds it takes me to walk from my office to the first floor where my mom life takes over isn't enough time to sneeze, let alone decompress. Don't get me wrong - I in no way miss the one hour plus commute I had at one point in time, but a few minutes to relax would be nice.

6. I thought I would have more time to write because I wouldn't be running around as much.  Not so.  Not so at all.  When I have a few extra minutes between camp or school dropoff and my start time, I spend it getting my breakfast, starting a load of laundry that I'll just be rewashing later or cleaning something.  I have the age old problem of needing to get up earlier to actually get anything done.  I know that early morning is a very productive time for me, but I am usually so tired I can't get myself to get up.

7.  One of my biggest issues in my last office was noise.  I'm very easily distracted, so all the side conversations, interruptions, and even the everyday sounds of other people working was bothersome.  It turns out my neighborhood is quite the bustling place during the day.  Last week, the people behind me had a massive tree cut down in their back yard.  A few weeks before, the house across the street had the roof replaced.  I now know everyone's landscaping schedule.  I also know all about my neighbor's car trouble, the new car they bought and the jealousy of the middle sibling that the eldest gets to drive it, even though she has one she can use.

8.  Sometimes maybe it gets a little lonely.  Mostly I miss having someone around to hear me when I yell obscenities at my computer and back me up with a hearty "Yeah!"  But don't tell anyone I said this because I have a reputation of only pretending to be a people person to uphold.

I'm not complaining though, because it sure does beat the alternative.  Unless the alternative is sitting on a beach and not working but still having someone put money in my checking account every other Friday, in which case I'd prefer that.

Joining the moonshine grid this week.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Common Ground.

I couldn't have been more than seven or eight years old.  Every Tuesday night my mother worked at the local library.  My brother and I spent the evening eating Jiffy Pop and watching The A-Team with our father.  Once Dad and Jim were asleep, and I was supposed to be, I'd sneak into my mother's bed to wait for her to get home.

She always seemed annoyed to find me there.  I pretended to be asleep so she would pick me up and carry me to my own bed.  She always knew I was awake and would tell me that the following week I was to sleep in my own bed. But I needed to know she was home, and I worried I wouldn't get to see her if I wasn't in her room.  So every week this ritual continued. 

For the past few weeks, my shoulders have been in considerable pain. My son is now forty-five pounds and at least as many inches.  He looks like he grows daily, all gangly arms and legs.  I suspect my shoulder pain is the direct result of trying to carry this monstrosity that my child has become.  

I fell asleep on the couch last night.  I was woken up by an urgent, frightened voice at the top of the stairs calling out, "Mommy? Mommy?" Startled and concerned, I sprinted to the second floor, taking the stairs by twos.

"I was calling you and you didn't answer," his voice cracked with sadness.

"I'm sorry, Baby.  I was asleep. I'm here now, it's OK." I hugged his shaking body.

"I was scared," he cried.

"It's OK," I whispered as I scooped him up.  He wrapped his legs around my waist and his arms around my neck, resting his head on my shoulder.  Closer to seven years old than to six, his torso is too long to fit this way.  I craned my neck to accommodate his need for comfort, pain surging through my shoulders.  As I lifted him onto his loft bed, wincing while I raised his body, he loosened his grip and eased into his pillow.

Now that he knew I was there, he could get back to sleep.

I kissed Nathan's face as he drifted off.  I retreated to my room.  Once in my own bed, my shoulders began to relax, the pain subsiding just a bit.

My mother probably wasn't really annoyed at me.  She was tired and I was heavy.  Her shoulders probably hurt from my weight and that of the world.  But she carried me as long as she could so I'd know I was safe, because that's what moms do.

We don't seem to have many parallels in our parenting, my mother and I, but I suppose there may be more common ground than I once thought.

I have been terrible about keeping up with 31dbbb, but I had this story brewing for the challenge grid, so here I am.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Ew. You blog?

Recently I found myself engaged in a conversation about writing.  OK, so maybe I brought it up. But it was totally organic, I promise! (It wasn't.)

I off-handedly said that I participate in a writing challenge and there was a spark of interest.  Turns out the person I was talking to also writes.  That person publishes stories, which is wonderful.  I said I blog. And that's when all of the enthusiasm drained out of the conversation.

There was a half-hearted, "That's cool," and a sudden need to do something elsewhere.

Hey, I get it.  When anyone can start a blog and write anything they want, there's no guarantee that it will be any good.  Some really aren't.  But many, many more are very good. There is a wealth of self-published writing that is just begging to be discovered.  Blogs should not be discounted just because they are blogs.

I don't claim to be perfect, but I put forth the effort to construct a proper sentence and use correct grammar.  I try to mix up the parenting stories, the memoir pieces, and the general slice of posts so that I can be relevant in a variety of ways.  I try to challenge myself and improve.

I haven't been published and I do recognize that there is a certain amount of validation that comes with having someone else approve of and, hopefully, pay you for your work.  I'm well aware that if everyone hated what I wrote, I could just keep on doing it and no one could stop me.  But I also know, even if I don't always admit it, that I have a relatively unique story to tell and the voice and skill to tell it.

My blog is a vehicle to tell that story, and, sure, any other thing I damn well please.  I do consider myself a writer and I don't care if someone else doesn't.

I've been lacking confidence for a long time.  I know that and, if you read here with any regularity, you know that, too.

One sure fire way to give me confidence, though?  Imply I'm not good enough.  I'm sure that person isn't reading this and none of the blog haters are either.  That's just fine.  I don't need them.

(Submitting to the moonshine grid.  A fun place to hang out on the weekends.)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Anywhere But Here.

In case you haven't heard, this month Yeah Write is hosting a summer series "31 Days to Build a Better Blog." 31 topics, 31 days, every day in July. I'm following along and will hopefully post along daily to practice skills.


Day 2: Write a List Post

Vacation:  It's all I've ever wanted.  Vacation:  I have to get away.

No seriously, if I don't get the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of here soon, I'm going to lose my mind. I need a few days during which I do not have the responsibilities of work or running a household.  I need someone else to make my bed for me.

For the last three years, we've gone to the San Diego area of California.  I love it there.  I want to retire there and, if everything goes according to my fantasy, I'll retire before I'm 40.

But this year we aren't going there.  I am disappointed because, even as a lifelong NJ resident, you cannot convince me that the Jersey Shore is better than Carlsbad, CA.  You just can't.  Don't try.

There are a few things, though, that are making this year's vacation just a little bit better.

1.  3 hour drive as a family, not 6 hour flight with just me and Nathan.

Usually Kris flies out to California the week before us for work, so I make the trip out alone with Nathan.  He's a good flier, but 6 hours in one seat, preceded by a stint in an airport makes anyone a bit restless.  Six year olds, by nature, are pretty restless on a good day, so my patience is shot by the time we arrive  at our destination.  And the flight home, when everyone is worn out from fun yet still not wanting to go home, is no prize either.

2.  No jet lag.

Have you ever had jet lag?  It sucks.  We are a family full of sleep issues.  Nathan is an early riser - between 5 and 6 most days - so a three hour time difference is torture.  Unless you like being up at 3am for the day.  I don't.

3.  Boardwalk food.

When we go to California, there are two things I really want to eat.  First is dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Norte, in Carlsbad.  The other are the fried apples at Legoland.  But on the boardwalk in Wildwood, there are many treats to partake of.  You can get anything fried:  Oreos, candy bars, plain old blobs of dough.  You cannot beat a sausage, peppers and onions sandwich from one of the sketchy eateries.  Kohr Bros. ice cream, Polish water ice and Curly's fries are all regular things that happen to be extra delicious.

4.  I can pack more crap.

Because of the fact that I fly out without my husband, I have to limit what I bring. It's really hard to carry tons of stuff and keep an eye on a kid who won't carry anything.  This year, I'll just pack up the car and then we only have to lug it from the car to our room, not through two airports, on shuttles, in rental cars, and a variety of hotels.

5.  I won't be as sad to come home.

The last day in California I am so sad I can barely stand it.  If I had known last year that I wouldn't be back this year, I think it could have killed me.  I will be sad to see vacation end.  The truth is though that I could really go to Wildwood anytime I wanted.  I'm happy to be anywhere that isn't my home, where someone else cleans, and where I have an excuse to eat out more than I should.

So while this isn't my dream vacation, I'm just thankful I will be somewhere, anywhere, but here, for a few days.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Going down?

In case you haven't heard, this month Yeah Write is hosting a summer series "31 Days to Build a Better Blog." 31 topics, 31 days, every day in July. I'm following along and will hopefully post along daily to practice skills.


Day 1:  Write an Elevator Pitch. 

At BlogHer, when asked what my blog was about I'd give the following response:

Well... sometimes it's just my day to day.  You know, life as a wife, working mom, etc. But sometimes I do some memoir work about life with my parents.

If they appeared like they were still listening, I'd add in that my dead mother had multiple sclerosis and my father is a recovering alcoholic.

My readership did not skyrocket after BlogHer.

A blog redesign has been on my mind, which includes the idea of the name, tag line, elevator pitch, and the overall way I want this blog to represent itself.  The internal conversation goes something like this:

1. The Journey is a stupid name for a blog.
2. I should have stuck with the old name, "What I'm Thinking About Right Now."  Wait, no I should not have.
3. I recently changed my tag line from a whole lot of stuff about being a homesteading, green mom, since that's not where I'm headed anymore.  The new tag line reads "Writing my way through life." I'm not sure I like that either.
4. What's the pitch?  Start with the pitch and find the name/tag line...
5.  Possible pitch:  The musings and ramblings of a crazy curmudgeon.
6.  When I try to write about myself and be clever, it makes me think people will say, "Who does she think she is?" Then I want to puke.
7.  Ooh!  That could be my new tag line - I think I'm going to puke.
8.  No, no! - I think I'm gonna barf. - but said in the voice of Marge Gunderson from Fargo.
9.  No one will know to read it in Marge Gunderson's voice.
10.  Fuuuuu... No wonder no one wants to read this thing.

I put a little thought into this pitch, albeit at 3:30 in the morning.  Here goes, take one:

I'm writing about my past, present and future, with an eye toward being a wife, mom, employee, and a writer.  I'm trying to be a better parent than mine were.  I examine themes from the POV of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic as well as the young caregiver for my late-mother as she battled multiple sclerosis.  Sometimes I throw in my anxiety and depression.

And now I think I'm gonna barf.

What do you think?  Be honest (but kind, please).  If you want to weigh in on the tag line, blog name or elevator pitch, go for it.  I'm here to learn!